Happy Preakness Day! Here are my thoughts on the stakes races that will be contested today at Old Hilltop! Best of luck!
Race 3, The G3 Gallorette Handicap, Post Time: 11:30 EDT
#3 ZAGORA was dreadful last time out, but that had everything to do with her receiving an overly patient ride in a slow-paced race. There’s more legitimate speed in this field and jockey Javier Castellano will have to keep her closer to the pace from the outset. #1 CAMELIA ROSE has been competitive against graded stakes horses in California and now ships eastward for trainer Simon Callaghan and owner Paul Reddam. She figures to get a good pace stalking trip from the inside and will offer a modicum of value.
Race 6, The Chick Lang, Post Time: 1:50 EDT
#2 TRIPPI’S SECRET made a bold wide move in the Robert Hilton Memorial last time out at Charles Town. He bore out badly at the eighth pole, which allowed the eventual 1-2 finishers to slip inside of him and complete the exacta. The return to a one turn trip should give him no trouble and there’s more than enough pace to set up his late run. #1 SCARAMAGNA is another horse with upside who should benefit from the setup in this affair. He has improved considerably since being claimed by trainer Marcus Vitali, so he has a chance today at a very square price.
Race 8, The G3 Maryland Sprint Handicap, Post Time: 3:12 EDT
#3 DISKI DANCE is the one to catch in here for a very strong barn that has done exceptionally well with Maryland starters over the last five years (31%, $2.36 ROI). He was a no show on the turf last time out but figures to benefit moving back to the dirt this afternoon. The main speed in here is Immortal Eyes, but he has been more relaxed recently and is buried on the inside today. Look for jockey Angel Arroyo to get this gelding to the lead at once in the opening furlong. #1 IMMORTAL EYES narrowly missed in this race last year at better than 20-1. He once again comes in off a victory at Charles Town and will be ridden aggressively from the inside this afternoon.
Race 9, The James W. Murphy, Post Time: 3:53 EDT
#9 HAMMERS TERROR ran a solid race in his turf debut at Fair Grounds in March, as he battled tooth and nail after contesting a strong pace in the early stages. He came back to finish a strong 3rd on the Polytrack at Keeneland, which was a far better race than it appears on paper. There’s very little speed in here, which could lead to jockey Corey Nakatani putting this colt very close to the lead from the outset. #1 EASY CROSSING is the likely favorite in here, as his lone defeat in three career starts came to the talented turfer Our Entourage. He came back to win a N1X in his next start, but was all out to defeat a soft field that afternoon. While he makes a great deal of sense, he is a hard horse to trust completely today.
Race 10, The G3 DuPont Distaff, Post Time: 4:36 EDT
#5 AWESOMEMUNDO absolutely crushed a field of N2X optional claimers in her dirt debut and now returns off a brief layoff for trainer Bob Baffert. She became a different horse last year when Baffert stretched her out to a route of ground and she is now 3 of her last 4. Her recent workouts are very strong and she figures to get an excellent pace setup today. #9 PINCH PIE hardly embarrassed herself in her last dirt start, as she was 3rd in the Alabama behind Royal Delta and It’s Tricky. If she can lay back and make one run, she’ll be heard from late at a price.
Race 11, The G2 Dixie, Post Time: 5:18 EDT
#4 STRAIGHT STORY has 2 wins off of 180+ day layoffs in his career and now returns off the bench for trainer Alan Goldberg. Two years ago, Goldberg and Dominguez combined to win this race with Strike a Deal, who also happened to be coming back off a layoff. If Dominguez is able to get im to a clear early lead this afternoon, he’ll prove very tough to catch. #9 AIR SUPPORT is going 2nd off a layoff for trainer Shug McGaughey, which has long been a positive angle for this barn. He was a listless 5th last time out in an allowance race at Keeneland, but a wide trip hurt his cause that afternoon.
Race 12, The GI Preakness, Post Time: 6:18 EDT
While some will fault #9 I’LL HAVE ANOTHER‘s trip in the Kentucky Derby, he is simply a versatile horse who can be positioned anywhere in the early stages. With fewer potential pacesetters in this field, he can rate a bit closer to the fleet-footed Bodemeister and tackle him when ready. Due to his light schedule prior to the Run for the Roses, he is more trustworthy off just a 2 week layoff. #7 BODEMEISTER is strictly the one to beat because of his speed and the lack of it in the field. He figures to get clear this afternoon and will be favored for that reason.